IELTS Writing Task 2: Coherence and Cohesion

glue on paper to represent coherence and cohesion in ielts writing

When IELTS scorers are looking at your essays, what will they be reading for? Four main qualities, as you can see in the IELTS rubric. Among these qualities are coherence and cohesion. This a measurement of your ability to present ideas logically and clearly. In other words, the IELTS wants to see that your ideas make sense and work together in a logical way.

So how can you improve your coherence and cohesion score on IELTS? Read on for three crucial elements of this scoring category!

Transition Words and Phrases

One of the best things you can do to improve your “Coherence and Cohesion” score is to master useful transition words. Study our IELTS linking words list (with PDF) and other lists of transition words to add to your repertoire. You should learn as many of these as possible to have a range of words and phrases from which to choose as you write. As noted in other places above, it hurts your score to use the same phrases over and over again. You need to avoid redundancy with transition words as well. Also, avoid overusing using transition words; you definitely don’t need such words or phrases in every sentence. Only include them when it will help you to show the relationship between ideas more clearly.

Referencing

Another aspect of your “Coherence and Cohesion” score relates to “referencing.” This is your ability to use various pronouns accurately and appropriately. For example:

I learned how to knit a sweater from my grandmother. It took a long time to learn.
“It” refers to “how to knit a sweater”

We had a great time on holiday in Hawaii. I want to go back there!
“There” refers to “Hawaii.”

Referencing helps you to avoid redundancy because you don’t mention the same nouns over and over again. Just as importantly, it also pulls your sentences together, linking ideas and concepts. Practice using pronouns as you write and make sure to look for pronoun errors as you edit your work!

Ordering and Organizing Ideas

A final important aspect of your “Coherence and Cohesion” score is the overall organization of your response. Your paragraphs should be organized logically, and your ideas should progress in a clear way from one sentence to the next. This involves using transition words, but it also relates to the order in which your ideas appear. For example, you can see what this looks like in the Writing Task 2 Template. Mastering this template is a great way to boost your Coherence and Cohesion band score for Task 2!

Resources for Boosting Band Scores

Of course, it’s hard to work on just one scoring category at a time! As you improve your coherence and cohesion on your IELTS tasks, for example, you should also be working to improve your Lexical Resource, Task Response, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy band levels. Here are a few posts to help you do that for Task 2!

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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